A chapter closed in the music industry yesterday, with the death of highlife icon Fatai Rolling Dollar. He was 85.
Born Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju, the late musician, who mentored greats like King Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, reportedly died of cancer.
He took ill in the United States last month during a musical tour. Tour promoter Samson Raji said the late Olagunju complained of chest pain after one of his three performances and was subsequently diagnosed of cancer at the hospital. He died at a Surulere, Lagos Mainland hospital.
His remains were transferred to his Agege home, near the abattoir. He was buried yesterday.
A crowd of musicians and admirers of the highlife maestro trooped to his residence. Among the early callers were music star Sunny Ade and another music giant Ebenezer Obey.
President Goodluck Jonathan led the tributes. Governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rauf Aregnesola (Osun), National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Minister of Culture Edem Duke and Chair of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) Tony Okoroji also paid tributes
In a statement, Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, said the President “joins other Nigerians and music lovers in all parts of the world in mourning the accomplished and multi-talented musician, Pa Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju, popularly known as Fatai Rolling Dollar, who passed away earlier today.
“President Jonathan shares the grief of all lovers of music over the death of the illustrious entertainer, master singer, guitarist and exponent of the native thumb piano who continued to perform and exhibit his unqualified love for the music profession at an age when most of his contemporaries had long retired.
“The President believes that the late Fatai Rolling Dollar, who enthralled his teeming followers throughout his career of over 64 years will, even in death, remain an enduring influence on African music and that the vacuum his death has created in the Nigerian entertainment industry will be hard to fill.
“He extends heartfelt condolences to the late musician’s family and prays that God Almighty grant his soul eternal rest.”
National leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described the death of the music star as a colossal loss.
“He was in a class of his own. An exceptionally- talented musician, Fatai Rolling Dollar, was way ahead of his peers. He was a great musical talent, who churned out great music. The originality of his lyrics was such that they were never easily fogotten even as they resonated across different ages and societal strata.
Tinubu said Fatai Rolling Dollars’ music was always a delight to listen to. “Like millions of followers, I mourn his passing away, but I celebrate a life of excellence and a brilliant musical career”.
Fatai must be remembered as one of Nigeria’s musical icon, a musical historian of note and a master of his art whose music delighted millions for decades. Tinubu prayed for the wife and children to have the fortitude to bear their loss and God’s protection.